AirAsia Flight 8501 Crash: Plane Not Authorized To Fly Route, Rescue Operation Continues

As the rescue mission to recover the remains of all 162 passengers on board AirAsia Flight 8501 continues, new information reveals that the plane was not authorized to travel that route when it crashed.

According to Indonesian authorities, the airliner was only permitted to fly from Surabaya to Singapore on four days of the week, the Wall Street Journal reports. AirAsia Flight 8501 was not allowed to fly on Sunday, the day the crash took the plane to the bottom of the Java Sea.

The revelations come as Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said that it had found four large pieces of the fuselage despite the poor weather in the area. The Republic of Singapore Navy posted on Facebook that teams working to bring the remains to dry land are facing extremely difficult conditions.

“Five RSN ships have been deployed for the search operation – a frigate RSS Supreme, missile corvette RSS Valour and landing ship tank RSS Persistence for surface search, a mine countermeasure vessel RSS Kallang, MV Swift Rescue, as well as an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) team to conduct underwater search.”

“Since arriving at the search area, the ships have been experiencing rough seas with swells of up to 3 metres in height. The choppy waves and grey skies due to the bad weather also affects visibility, making it difficult to identify objects in the water. Strong winds and low clouds also make flying operations challenging. Besides dealing with rolling and pitching of the ship, the crew have to fight against the strong winds to retrieve items from the sea. It also makes the launching of the Fast Craft Utility more challenging from RSS Persistence.”

Image via Republic of Singapore Navy/Facebook

According to Goh Jerica, Commanding Officer of RSS Supreme, the team members are aware of the importance of their mission to recover all crash victims of AirAsia Flight 8501.

“Every crew involved in this operation understands the importance of their contributions. The weather and sea state have made it more challenging for us to accomplish our mission. But our sailors have stayed focused and committed to do their best.”

The head of Indonesia’s search-and-rescue agency, Bambang Soelistyo, said Saturday that teams found four pieces of the plane relatively close together on bottom of the sea. The largest part found at the crash site of AirAsia Flight 8501 measures about 59 feet in length.

The agency released sonar images of the objects that have been discovered and announced it will deploy ping locators to find the airliner’s black boxes, which are critical to determine what happened in the moments leading to the catastrophic crash. Investigators have stated that none of the passengers were wearing their oxygen masks, which indicates a sudden problem.

Singapore rescue operations
Image via Republic of Singapore Navy/Facebook.

Indonesia’s acting director general of aviation, Djoko Murjatmodjo said that AirAsia Flight 8501 was not authorized to fly the route when it crashed, because the country was close to the quota for flying people to Singapore, the WSJ reports.

Even though some bodies have been recovered from the sea floor, the majority of the 162 passengers and crew that AirAsia Flight 8501 was carrying when it crashed are still strapped to their seats inside the fuselage. The efforts have been hampered by weather stemming from the Monsoon season in Indonesia.

[Image via Republic of Signapore Navy/Singapore]